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Authors Behaving Badly, Episode #4: Rosina Lippi/Sara Donati

Someone needs some attention. Let’s, as Sybil would say, give her some. You see, Rosina Lippi, in an attempt to keep things on the downlow, posts on her blog an explanation of an online kerfluffle that happened at the Gabaldon yahoo group. Thanks to my reader tip, I moseyed over to see what the drama was about that Ms. Lippi was trying to keep from blowing all out of proportion.

There’s another (yet again) clash in one very small, limited corner of the internet, but as it happens to be the corner I inhabit, and as I would prefer this not blow out of all proportion, I am going public right here and now.

Lippi tries to be careful not to reveal the parties involved by using their initials. Very sneaky, I will never figure out who those people are. Someone at the DG group didn’t like Lippi’s latest book. A fan of Diana Gabaldon posted her opinions that Sara Donati was a DG wannabe who “tapped into a HUGE fan-base by dangling ‘an appearance of Jamie and Claire’ into her story.” The DG fan was specific in her complaints and cited passages and characters that she felt were copied from other authors.

The ‘insignificant’ *background characters* are all names taken from other works of literature (ie. a happy friend, Jane Bingsley in England *cough* ‘Pride and Prejudice’…a Mr. MCTAVISH in Montreal…HELLO!! Remember JAMIE MACTAVISH?!?! The original/accidental name of Jamie Fraser!!). . . .

If you LOVE LOVE LOVE the movie ‘The Last of the Mohicans’….you might be able to stomach it. Nathaniel is none other than the son (and physical carbon copy) of Daniel Day-Lewis’ character from the movie. Elizabeth bears an EERY resemblance to her mother-in-law Cora….Chingachgook is the same..only a little older…naturally. Duncan has been reincarnated and is currently inhabitting the body of Richard Todd.

The reader also stated that

I think Sara Donati DOES have a talent for putting words together and painting a decent enough picture, so as to place me into the scene,…..but she CERTAINLY lacks creativity with regards to situations and characters.

A reader’s comment about a book on a message board is termed a review and up for criticism by Lippi. Lippi finds the “review” to not be “professional, balanced or respectful.”

The most interesting thing I found in the whole deal is that Lippi states for public consumption on her blog about how it is fine for the poster to have her own opinion (while calling her unprofessional, etc). but on her public forum states the following:

And yes, there are a couple of people over there who are getting their jollies by bashing my books.. . There’s a small class of Gabaldon fans who are simply rabid. They are not satisfied to love and adore every word she writes, they can’t be happy until they’ve torn down everything ever printed that isn’t hers. And they pursue this goal with single minded glee and giggling.. . .Their lives are so limited and narrow that the best time they can imagine is to sit around and snicker about the Not Diana books. . . .

Ms. Lippi, I have a friend for you to meet. This is Kettle. Kettle, this is Pot. Is it professional, balanced, and respectful to define the fans lives as “limited and narrow” and to refer to their actions as attacking you with “single minded glee and giggling”? Sounds like an ad hominem attack to me. The reader actually stated that Lippi had skill in putting together and painting a decent picture but that reader felt the characters lacked originality. That doesn’t sound like someone who is going around with “single minded glee and giggling” and whose life is just devoted to knocking you down a notch.

My favorite line of all is Ms. Lippi’s claims that she is a better writer than DG.

I am as good a writer as Diana. Sometimes I am better. I will point out to them, if they approach me directly, that I have won major literary prizes. She has spent a lot more time on the best seller list, but then so has Dan Brown.

I haven’t read either authors (listened to DG on tape and know that Maili hates the DG books with a passion) so I guess I’ll just have to take Ms. Lippi’s word for it. After all, she does have those awards. (I googled and found one, but not the multiples which she references). I would guess that would make her a better writer than Nora Roberts, Jennifer Cruise, Loretta Chase, Judith McNaught, Julia Quinn, Laura Kinsale, Jo Goodman, Diana Norman, Stephen King, Lisa Kleypas, Connie Brockway, Eloisa James, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and so on because those authors are not winners of any literary awards that I know of (unless we refer to the Ritas as literary awards, but somehow I don’t think that is the kind of “literary award” to which Lippi refers). Plus, some of them are commercially successful like Dan Brown.

Lippi ends with the statement:

“I suppose I could email authors who have written books that didn’t work for me. I could get in touch with John Updike or Nora Roberts or Jodi Picoult or Stephen King or Toni Morrison and offer them the opportunity to pitch their books to me, but then that would be presumptuous and less than respectful.”

I am not sure what this statement means. I think it means that readers who don’t like an author’s work should just . . . not email the author an offer to pitch their work to the reader?

I hope I helped keep this from blowing all out of proportion like Lippi wanted when she went public with a little known controversy.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

19 Comments

  1. seton
    Aug 25, 2006 @ 11:27:13

    So. . . . where is the DG yahoogroup?

    ReplyReply

  2. Sybil
    Aug 25, 2006 @ 12:50:20

    hmmmm

    Is this yahoo group a closed, you must become a member group? There is nothing as tacky as going ‘public’ with a private conversation.

    That is all sorts of shades of wrong.

    I hate it when an author tries to point out how wonderful she is. No shit. I would guess most writers like their own fucking books. This is sort of like Joyce pointing out that people are reviewing her book wrong because they ‘don’t get it’.

    ReplyReply

  3. Marg
    Aug 25, 2006 @ 16:04:36

    As a fan of both authors I do find this whole deal, that has been going on for years, really frustrating.

    .

    ReplyReply

  4. Karen Scott
    Aug 25, 2006 @ 17:30:13

    I wonder why she couldn’t just ignore the conversation? She blithely says that people are entitled to their views, but she then goes to the trouble of telling us where the readers and reviewers went wrong.

    She wrote:

    I am as good a writer as Diana. Sometimes I am better. I will point out to them, if they approach me directly, that I have won major literary prizes. She has spent a lot more time on the best seller list, but then so has Dan Brown.

    Well I’ve never seen any of her books at my local Borders, yet Gabaldon’s take up two shelf spaces.

    No matter how she tries to put it, she comes off sounding snide, and petulant, not a good look for an author, but one that seems to be worn quite a lot these days.

    Well, I guess they’re only human, thus prone to getting their heads stuck up their arse now and then.

    ReplyReply

  5. Keishon
    Aug 25, 2006 @ 22:50:23

    I’ve never read Donati and her online presence has made me a non-interested reader. I find her completely unappealing and unprofessional. Just ignore the shit, you know? And she is not better than DG. I said so.

    ReplyReply

  6. Shannon
    Aug 26, 2006 @ 07:29:40

    So there can only be one McTavish in all of women’s fictiondom? Interesting.

    On the other hand, I wish my ego was that healthy. (not that it could be, too many people pointing and laughing.)

    And I was really confused until I figured out Lippi and Donati are the same person.

    ReplyReply

  7. Robin
    Aug 26, 2006 @ 10:59:41

    As a fan of both authors I do find this whole deal, that has been going on for years, really frustrating.

    Can you explain this situation? I don’t get it, but a quick trip through Google yielded stuff like Sara Donati and Gabaldon were rumored to be the same author at one point?

    ReplyReply

  8. Marg
    Aug 26, 2006 @ 18:12:13

    It is something that has been being said for years. but I think that the authors have two distinct voices within their books. Part of the issue is that Diana allowed Sara to have a cameo appearance of Jamie and Clare in the first book in the series. As soon as DG fans realise that many are either disappointed that the cameo is so small or just immediately dislike the book because it’s not DGs. That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t numerous fans of both authors…like me.

    Having previously been involved in several DG communities I have seen these kind of comments several times over the years. It probably would have been better for Sara to not have said anything this time either, but I can understand her frustration with the fact that their two names seem to be inextricably linked, all because of literally two sentences in a book. The stories are different, with a similar timeframe, but other than that, there are different focusses.

    ReplyReply

  9. Suisan
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 05:15:52

    ahem.

    Just a quick, eh, edit? Shouldn’t this be titled ABB # 5? I though Ms. Butler was #4. Not that I’m much of a nitpicker, usually.

    ReplyReply

  10. Keishon
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 08:48:35

    I wasn’t aware that Ms. Butler was an author. Is she an aspiring author? Is she published? I just thought she was a reader and a member of RWA. I don’t think she’s an author. That a reader’s gone bad type of thing.

    I think. Jane?

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 09:24:54

    I think Jan Butler was an aspiring author. I’ll have to change the title. Having read the comments at Lippi’s blog between her and Robin and then the excerpts at Sybil’s site, I have to wonder what Lippi has against the blog. Maybe she was aching to be an ABB in hopes that would boost her flagging sales.

    Seton – if you go to groups.yahoo.com and then search for Diana Gabaldon, I think it was the first group that showed up. It had over 1000 members.

    ReplyReply

  12. Robin
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 11:44:55

    Jan Butler is an inspirational author; someone on Smart Bitches (I think) linked to this book: http://tinyurl.com/kq22p.

    Regarding the Gabaldon – Donati issue:

    Part of the issue is that Diana allowed Sara to have a cameo appearance of Jamie and Clare in the first book in the series. As soon as DG fans realise that many are either disappointed that the cameo is so small or just immediately dislike the book because it’s not DGs.

    Wow; I wouldn’t have believed that such a thing could ripen into, well, anything, really, if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. If we could only get people to have this much passion about, say, voting.

    ReplyReply

  13. Karen Scott
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 11:45:33

    Keishon, Janny Butler is an aspiring Inspirational romance writer. Her attitude made sense when I learned that little tidbit of information.

    ReplyReply

  14. Karen Scott
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 11:49:01

    Oops, two great minds and all that!

    I’m gratified to see that Dear Janny’s 234 page book is going for the massive price of $0.33. Seems a little pricey to me. *g*

    ReplyReply

  15. Karen Scott
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 11:56:38

    I just read the only review of Janny’s book, it was written by a Lois A Butler, what’s the betting that they’re related?

    ReplyReply

  16. illyria
    Aug 27, 2006 @ 12:00:45

    This group – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DianaGabaldon/?

    Can you explain this situation? I don’t get it, but a quick trip through Google yielded stuff like Sara Donati and Gabaldon were rumored to be the same author at one point?

    I’ve seen the same thing, but I don’t think they write the same way at all. I read Donati’s first book because someone recommended it on a Gabaldon site, but I wasn’t expecting the book to be like or one of Gabaldon’s, except that they were in roughly the same time period (never crossed my mind that they might be the same person). I wasn’t interested enough to read more of the series; I didn’t see the movie that I think it’s based on and didn’t pick up on the similarities to other characters, and I think even if I’d come across Donati first, I probably would feel the same way about her books – in my case, the only connection I knew of between the two authors was that one was recommended on the other’s site. They’re still recommended quite a bit on Gabaldon sites, so I’m not sure why a few people who dislike Donati’s series would upset her so much (or, rather, why she’d comment on it or lurk on Gabaldon’s site, even if it did upset her); I found it a little odd that of all the negative reviews Donati could have picked to provide an example of one, it was one on Gabaldon’s latest book. I haven’t seen the same sort of response from Gabaldon.

    ReplyReply

  17. Robin
    Aug 28, 2006 @ 08:15:21

    I found it a little odd that of all the negative reviews Donati could have picked to provide an example of one, it was one on Gabaldon’s latest book. I haven’t seen the same sort of response from Gabaldon.

    I don’t know all the history here, but IIRC, Donati took some flak for not rejecting Beth’s review when Beth put it out there. And I take some responsibility for putting more attention on the review, as I used it to continue a discussion I’ve been having with Donati regarding reviewing.

    Basically, I think we’re all at our personal best when we’re helping other people not react when they feel attacked; otherwise, I think it’s difficult not to get defensive at one point or another along the way. Donati has been one of the few authors, in my experience, at least, who’s been willing to talk about some of these issues without getting huffy and dictatorial. And I think that’s no small thing, especially these days with everyone so touchy about “bad behavior,” on the part of both authors and readers.

    ReplyReply

  18. Read for Pleasure
    Jul 10, 2007 @ 00:28:07

    Melissa Bank: The Wonder Spot

    Last month I mentioned the war between authors Jennifer Weiner and Curtis Sittenfeld. I was gorily fascinated: they spent more time reviewing each other’s personalities and genre definitions than each other’s books…

    I won’t review Weiner’s review of Sittenfeld’s review of Bank’s book. That would be meta-meta-(meta?)-review, and Egging On Authors Behaving Badly besides. Instead I decided to read all three books…

  19. Julie V
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 13:32:14

    I love both series of books. Why can’t everyone take them for what they are.

    ReplyReply

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